Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Responding to Adversity

What can I say about our weather? It is definitely not predictable to any level of success. It appears we will be going from frozen to flooding, if we get the rain that is forecast for the middle of this week.

Have you noticed that sometimes life gets in the way of living? Several of our friends or their family members have experienced major trials over the last several weeks. Everyone goes through these things eventually, no one is exempt from them. The Bible clearly states, in this life, there will be trouble. One thing I have noticed, is those who have a close relationship with the Lord are, in general, better able to deal with these setbacks than are those without Him. This is not to say it is easy, no trial can be said to be easy.

How we respond to adversity has much to say about our where our life is anchored. If our life is tied to “things”, we are bound to be disappointed. If our hope is in people, they will ultimately disappoint us. I could give other examples, but you get my drift. However, if our life and our hope are anchored in Jesus
Christ, there is nothing in the world that can move us.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

The psalmist wrote, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

These words from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk, have been an encouragement to me. I pray they will encourage you, also.

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

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One Way

Well, here we go again with another round of snow and cold. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of the four seasons, but I’m ready for a change!

Nebraska, it’s not for everyone; so the new state slogan says. Some are born here and had no choice in the beginning, but sooner or later you make a choice to live in this place, or choose some other place to live.

In comparison, Christianity is available to all people, and at some point each one has to make a choice. One major difference is that no one is born a Christian. A choice has to be made. Christianity is for everyone. Jesus died for all humanity, but we all have to accept his sacrifice on a personal basis.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Did you get that? It is for whoever believes in him. Those who do not believe do not have eternal life.

For those who might say there are many paths to salvation, this is what Jesus says: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).

This does not seem to indicate more than one way. At the beginning of his gospel, John, speaking of Jesus Christ wrote this: “He (Jesus) was in the world, and though the world was made by him, the world did not recognize him. He came to his own, but his own did not recognize him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:10-12).

Every person is born with a sin nature, causing him or her to be separated from God. God has provided a way for that relationship to be restored. That way is Jesus Christ and his finished work on the cross. There is no middle ground, we must all choose to either accept him or reject him. God said it, that settles it for me. How about you?

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Tune-up or Overhaul?

Dear readers,
I always struggle with what kind of salutation is best to open these weekly conversations. Sadly, there are not many original greetings available to me. Perhaps I should just use ‘to whom it may concern.’ I guess this is just another challenge to a weekly writer.

In a previous time, I did a bit of mechanic work for myself and a few neighbors. Some of the vehicles that came into the shop needed a minor tune-up to be restored to working order. There were others, however, that needed a complete overhaul in order to perform correctly.

These days, as the effects of age begin to be more noticeable, we wonder at times if we, too, are in need of a tune-up, or a complete overhaul? In this new year, there may be a few people still committed to exercise and diet, as means to tune-up their bodies.

What about your spiritual well-being? Are you looking for a new year makeover? Will you be needing an overhaul or tune-up? Maybe a new you?

Here are a few suggestions from the Bible, beginning with our basic spiritual condition as defined by God. Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Other scriptures point out the fact that because of Adam, we all are born in sin, needing an overhaul, if you will.

Jesus said the remedy for this condition is a new birth. In His words; “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3, 5). This would be a complete overhaul, a new beginning. In fact, a new creation, according to scripture.

When Jesus was washing his disciples’ feet in the upper room, Peter objected, insisting he needed a bath. Jesus answered him, “One who has bathed doesn’t need to wash anything except his feet, but he is completely clean” (John 13:9). One who is saved, need only be cleansed from recent sins. John refers to this in his first letter, written to believers; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This, too, could be likened to a tune-up.

Renewed in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Milestones

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning as I write this. Across the street, the carousel sits empty, showing no signs of the graduation party held last evening for our grandson Alex, as we celebrated with friends and family from near and far. Thanks to all who helped with set-up and clean-up. Those who brought food, and those who came to partake. It was a fitting end to a wonderful day. The Lord gets the credit for providing a perfect day. Our congratulations to Alex, and to all his classmates on a job well done, with best wishes for the future.

Thus ends another chapter in our lives. It wasn’t a chapter I would have written if I was writing the book, but still, I wouldn’t want it to be any different. That is the neat thing about letting God write your life story. As we look back, we understand he always has the best plan. I’ve always said if you think following God will be boring, you are mistaken. The Christian life lived in obedience to God is nothing less than an exciting adventure. Boring? Not!

Proverbs are wise sayings, not necessarily promises, but here are a few: Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:3); In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps (Prov. 16:9); Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Prov. 19:21).

There is also this promise to the those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, and have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Notice this is for those who love him, it is not a blanket promise to all people.

We will wait to see what the Lord has in store for us, but in the meantime, the camper is waiting, and we plan to spend a little time enjoying some of our state’s attractions. But, as noted, our plans are subject to God’s will and purpose. As it says in James’ little epistle, “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow… Instead you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will do live and do this or that” (James 4:13-15).

Be blessed in all you do,
Pastor Jerry

Changes

On the topic of weather, it seems spring is finally here. I awoke this morning to flashes of light that turned out to be lightning in the east. We received no moisture from this, but even the thought of a spring shower was an improvement from what we experienced just a couple of weeks ago.

On a somber note, we had our little dog put down this week. It was sad for us, but it was a necessary thing. In the years she was part of our life, she taught me much about being faithful and trusting, as she just seemed to enjoy life in spite of her so-called handicaps.

This week will be spent preparing for a reception honoring our grandson as he graduates from high school. At times like this, one wonders where the years have gone. Alex will be moving soon to a summer job and will attend welding school in the fall. It has been an interesting period in our lives, and we’ll miss having him in our house.

As I was speaking of the spring season earlier, one more indicator of the season is the appearance of baby geese here at the lake. I so enjoy seeing them in their downy cuteness, even knowing as they get older they become somewhat of a nuisance. From a spiritual point of view, springtime brings many signs of new life and new beginnings. It always reminds me of the new life we can have as a result of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As the grass, trees and flowers return from dormancy, we are reminded that through faith in Him, we have new life.

From God’s Word: I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again… I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit (John 3:3, 5). For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16).

Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life… Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him (Romans 6:5, 8).

Counting our blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Church Etiquette

It is time once again for news and views from our house. As always, the weather is a common conversation topic. It’s interesting to note, temperatures that seem rather chilly in the fall seem almost balmy these days. Anything over fifty degrees sends me outdoors in my shirtsleeves.

I have had discussions concerning the tendency these days for people to dress casual for about every event or activity. What used to be jacket and tie at the very least, is now athletic shoes, denim jeans and tee-shirts. Many times these discussions come around to what to wear to church.

Along that line of thought, there was a post on Facebook this week resisting the trend to casual. The sign at the church door read: “It’s all about love. PLEASE, no food or drink, no cell phones, lots of love allowed.”

Here are my thoughts on the clothing issue. As far as God is concerned, it is not so much about our appearance as it is about the condition of our heart. I don’t believe this is an excuse to dress shoddily, or be uncaring about our appearance as we gather to worship. Christ doesn’t require us to clean up our act before he accepts us. He does expect to see change in us, as a result of making Him Lord of our lives.

As for the food and drink issue, here is the comment that accompanied the sign at the church door: “Why are some churches so fearful of food, drinks and cell phones? I’ve never seen a food or drink or a cell phone walk into a sanctuary by themselves. Generally speaking, there is a person attached. And churches need people more than clean carpet or quiet sanctuaries.”

Of course, we should welcome all to enter our church buildings, regardless of dress, food or drink, or whatever. But we are to love them enough to point them to the Savior, praying that the Gospel will touch their hearts, and bring them to salvation.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. (Luke 19:10). Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28). If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Anger Management

We’ve had some really wide swings in weather conditions this past week. We’ve had balmy days with no wind, and some really windy (think gale force) days. There have been temperatures in the 70’s for daytime, and below freezing nights. In all this, there has been no moisture of any kind. We had planned another short camping trip, but Saturday morning I found ice in the water lines, so camping will resume in the spring.

I wrote the following paragraph recently during a recent devotional time. A few days later I received a very timely email on the subject.

I’m angry today. I can’t exactly put my finger on the reason. I’m angry at people who have no respect for human life, whether it be abortion, the killing of infants and toddlers, or people of any age. I’m angry because of liberal politicians and others who promote intolerance in the name of tolerance. But, today, I’m just plain angry. The Bible tells us God is angered by sin, and His anger is righteous. But it also indicates that there is a place for righteous anger on our part. Jesus said misplaced anger is sin, and I believe it. So, I want to be able to sort out sinful anger from justifiable anger. God will be the judge in the end.

In a recent episode of the Break Point radio program, there was a commentary by Eric Metaxas, titled “Anger Mismanagement”, which spoke directly to me. I’ll quote parts of it here: He starts out by saying that Americans are an increasingly angry lot. And the sad fact is, too often we Christians are rolling around in the muck with the rest of the nation. The following points are made: 1) We sin with anger because we lack faith in God’s ability to provide for or protect us. 2) We sin with anger because we lack hope. Is it possible we are expecting too much from this world and too little from the next? 3) We sin in the realm of anger because we lack love. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast…” “Speaking as a sinner to other sinners, we all can do our part to address America’s anger mismanagement crisis. And for us Christians, it starts with a little more faith, hope, and love.”

Convicted,
Pastor Jerry